Prof Colette McKay – Bionics Institute

Prof Colette McKay

Professor, Leader of Translational Hearing Research BSc(Hons), PhD, PG Diploma in Audiology, MAudSA, CCAudSA

Prof Colette McKay

Professor Colette McKay completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Melbourne in Physics and Mathematics and following this undertook clinical training in Audiology at the same institution. From 1989 to 2004 she held full time research fellow positions in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne. During this time, her research focussed on psychophysics, speech perception, and signal processing in cochlear implants, although she contributed more widely to other areas such as auditory processing in patients with schizophrenia.

In 1998 she was awarded a Senior/Principal Research Fellowship from the Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation and in 2003 an NH&MRC Principal Research Fellowship. In 2002 she was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for her research to improve speech understanding in cochlear implant users.

n 2005 Colette took up a position as Chair in Auditory Sciences at Aston University in the UK, where she launched the auditory research program as well as developing and implementing an undergraduate degree in Audiology. From 2007 she was appointed Chair in Applied Hearing Research at the University of Manchester, UK, where she led the Audiology and Deafness Research Group, and was Director of Research for the School of Psychophysical Sciences. In 2009 she was awarded the Thomas Simm Littler prize for contributions to auditory research by the British Society of Audiology.

In 2013, Colette returned to Melbourne with the assistance of a Victorian State Government Senior veski Innovation Fellowship, to take up the role of Leader in Translational Hearing Research at the Bionics Institute. Colette currently holds honorary professorial fellowships at the University of Melbourne Departments of Otolaryngology and Medical Bionics.

Research fields of interest

  • Cochlear Implants – psychophysics, speech understanding, and signal processing
  • Imaging brain plasticity and development using functional near infra-red spectroscopy

  • Auditory Brainstem and Midbrain Implants – psychophysics and improved fitting and signal processing

  • Auditory Neuroscience – EEG and imaging methods to characterise individual differences in neural function
  • Modelling of temporal processing in the auditory system – application to signal processing

Research projects

  • Understanding the effect of brain plasticity on cochlear implant outcomes in adults using a novel brain imaging technique called functional near infra-red spectroscopy (fNIRS).

  • Novel methods using EEG and fNIRS to assess hearing and fit hearing devices to infants, and verify their effectiveness.

  • Novel signal processing techniques to improve speech understanding with cochlear implants.

  • Development of Auditory Midbrain Implants. This project aims to evaluate a new type of auditory implant that stimulates the Inferior Colliculus in the midbrain. It is a collaboration between team members in University Hospital Hannover (Germany), University of Minnesota (USA), Cochlear Ltd, and Professor McKay at the Bionics Institute.

Student projects

Selected Publications

  1. Brochier, T., C. McKay, and H. McDermott. 2018. Encoding speech in cochlear implants using simultaneous amplitude and rate modulation. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 144(4): 2042-2051. doi: 1121/1.5055989.
  2. Mao, D., H. Innes-Brown, M. A. Petoe, Y. T. Wong, and C. M. McKay. 2018. Cortical auditory evoked potential time-frequency growth functions for fully objective hearing threshold estimation. Hearing Research. 370: 74-83. doi: 1016/j.heares.2018.09.006.
  3. Peng, F., H. Innes-Brown, C. M. McKay, J. Fallon, Y. Zhou, X. Wang, N. Hu, and W. Hou. 2018. Temporal Coding of Voice Pitch Contours in Mandarin Tones. Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 12(55). doi: 3389/fncir.2018.00055. Full Text
  4. Zhou, X., A. K. Seghouane, A. Shah, H. Innes-Brown, W. Cross, R. Litovsky, and C. M. McKay. 2018. Cortical Speech Processing in Postlingually Deaf Adult Cochlear Implant Users, as Revealed by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. Trends in Hearing. 22: 2331216518786850. doi: 1177/2331216518786850. Full Text
  5. McKay, C. M., N. Rickard, and K. Henshall. 2018. Intensity Discrimination and Speech Recognition of Cochlear Implant Users. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s10162-018-0675-7. View-only version
  6. Weder, S., X. Zhou, M. Shoushtarian, H. Innes-Brown, and C. McKay. 2018. Cortical Processing Related to Intensity of a Modulated Noise Stimulus-a Functional Near-Infrared Study. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 1007/s10162-018-0661-0. Full Text
  7. Azadpour, M., C. M. McKay, and M. A. Svirsky. 2018. Effect of Pulse Rate on Loudness Discrimination in Cochlear Implant Users. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO: [epub ahead of print]. doi: 1007/s10162-018-0658-8.
  8. Brochier, T., C. McKay, and H. McDermott. 2018. Rate modulation detection thresholds for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 143(2): 1214 – 1222. doi: 1121/1.5025048.
  9. McKay, C. M., and N. Smale. 2017. The relation between ECAP measurements and the effect of rate on behavioral thresholds in cochlear implant users. Hearing Research. 346: 62-70.
  10. Brochier, T., H. J. McDermott, and C. M. McKay. 2017. The effect of presentation level and stimulation rate on speech perception and modulation detection for cochlear implant users. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 141(6): 4097.


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